create Winner / 2015

Biotech Leaders Academy: Growing diverse entrepreneurs in biotech via hands-on work and mentorship

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by LA Bioscience Hub

LA Bioscience Hub, in collaboration with East Los Angeles College (ELAC), will create the Biotech Leaders Academy - a new program that introduces East LA’s bioscience students to the possibilities of becoming a biotech entrepreneur. We will place students into summer internships with LA biotech companies to give them valuable hands-on work experience. Students will also attend an entrepreneurship academy that introduces them to the opportunities and pathways of creating a biotech startup.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Implement a pilot or new project

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Federal research grant funding
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Gini coefficient
  • Number of high growth startups
  • Recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

LA Bioscience Hub (LABH) will help make LA the best place to create by fostering the next generation of diverse biotech entrepreneurs in our region.

Biotech is an industry of the future. It steadily expanded in LA County during the recession and continues to outpace many sectors in job growth today. Careers in the bioscience industry tend to pay family-supporting wages, providing an opportunity for low-income communities of color to enter the middle class. Given the sector’s strength in our region, LABH wants to ensure that this industry reflects the diversity and dynamism of Los Angeles. To help achieve this vision and make LA the best place to create, we are launching the Biotech Leaders Academy.

The Biotech Leaders Academy has two key components: (1) an entrepreneurship academy and (2) providing students with paid internships at local biotech firms.

The entrepreneurship academy will expose students from diverse backgrounds to the spectrum of career pathways available to them after they’ve completed their education. Our academy will equip students with the tools they’ll need to begin a career in biotechnology and empower them to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Through the Biotech Leaders Academy, we will cultivate our region’s next generation of local bioscience company founders, CEOs, COOs, and CTOs. We’ll foster entrepreneurship through learning modules that cover a variety of topics, including tech transfer, moving research from the lab to commercialization, securing capital, and building a team for success. Students will meet local entrepreneurs and get connected to local resources to ensure their success here in LA.

The second component of the Biotech Leaders Academy is our summer internship placement program. LABH will connect students to paid industry internships that provide hands-on work experience in this competitive field. The internship component will be modeled after work study programs, with LABH and participating biotech companies funding student internships jointly. This will ensure meaningful industry engagement and enable a broad spectrum of firms – from first stage startups to major industry leaders – to participate.

The Biotech Leaders Academy will nurture and expand our region’s entrepreneurial and innovation economy. By creating opportunities for populations that are underrepresented in the biotech industry, we will develop a more inclusive local economy and we will help make LA the best place to create.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Biotech Leaders Academy aims to 1) introduce students to biotech entrepreneurship and inspire them to start their own companies; 2) create meaningful, long-term partnerships between academic institutions and local biotech companies.

To measure our success based on the following:

  • Number of students participating in the program and number of student applicants
  • Students’ comfort with the basics skills and areas of entrepreneurship
  • Employer satisfaction with program
  • Percent of employers that are interested in providing internships for future cohorts
  • Percent of internship positions that are extended into the school year
  • Percent of interns that are invited for additional opportunities with their summer employer
  • Number of students who go on to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors

We will the program’s survey students, employers, and instructors before, during, and after the program. In addition, we will gather feedback through group and one-on-one discussions.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research